Money Is Useful But Not Complete

It’s surprising the thought you recall from more than forty years ago. One such was part of a presentation by David Jackson, PhD, in respect to employee motivation. The idea was that if you pay someone too little, they will be psychologically damaged, and their efforts will be less inline with your employer needs. On the other hand, if you pay them too much, nothing extra will happen.

The idea is money is a dysfunctional motivator. It can demotivate but not motivate.

I expect it is still true.

What about personal motivation?

It is clearly about “enough money.” Too little is debilitating, too much doesn’t add as much value as you would think.

Even the super rich at one time or another offered their creation for much less than it turned out to be worth. The immense wealth that followed was because the potential buyer didn’t see the value. Microsoft for $30 million. Salesforce for $75 million, Google for less than $1 million.

Two things are clear.

  1. Even highly skilled people don’t see the future very well,
  2. Beyond some point money has little additional value to its owner.

The economists call that “diminishing marginal value.” Simply put, the hundredth million dollars is not as useful for you as the first million dollars.

The meaning of all that is money won’t motivate you forever. Be a little cautious making it your only goal.

Other motivators.

In Maslow’s five level hierarchy of needs,

The first two are physiological needs, like food and shelter, and safety. Both of those are improved by money.

The next three, love and loving, esteem, and self-actualization may have a money component, but it is not primary.

The moral of the story

Seeking money will only take you so far in terms of reaching your highest level of satisfaction. Learn to keep money in its place. It makes your life comfortable and it provides you with resources that might help you achieve higher values in life.

More money is a dysfunctional motivator for everyone. Life is about more than wealth.


I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com

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